LOS ANGELES • Animal lovers on Wednesday called for a boycott of upcoming movie A Dog's Purpose after video footage emerged of an apparently terrified dog on the set being forced into rushing water.
The video shot in 2015 and published by celebrity website TMZ shows a German shepherd struggling to get away from his handler at the edge of a pool with swirling water.
"He ain't gonna calm down till he goes in the water, you just gotta throw him in," someone is heard saying on the video as the dog claws at the edges of the pool and is finally pushed into the turbulent water.
The one-minute video, which TMZ said was shot near Winnipeg, Canada, during the movie's production, ends with the dog going under the surface after running into the wall of the pool. Crew members are then seen rushing to recover it.
Animal-rights groups expressed outrage and urged a boycott of the movie. "Peta is calling on dog lovers to boycott the film to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props," Ms Lisa Lange, senior vice-president of communications for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), told Agence France-Presse.
Canada-based group Animal Justice said it has filed a complaint with the Canadian authorities calling for the film-makers to be charged with animal cruelty.
American Humane, which oversees animal safety on film sets, said it is investigating the incident.
Universal Pictures is releasing the movie that stars Dennis Quaid on Jan 27.
In a statement to TMZ, the company said "fostering a safe environment and ensuring the ethical treatment of our animal actors were of the utmost importance to those involved in making this film".